Make Travel Plans for Labor Day Weekend in NC’s Brunswick Islands

Still considering Labor Day travel plans for your family? Make crowded beaches and umbrella mazes a thing of the past with a holiday getaway to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. Our 45 miles of pristine, uncrowded beaches will take you back to the beach vacations of your childhood. With a uniquely relaxed atmosphere and plenty of beach for your blanket, there is no better place to celebrate the end to a fun-filled summer. Our six island beaches house a collection of family-friendly activities perfect for saying farewell to summer. Be sure to check out these suggestions for ways to make the most out of your long weekend in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Shallotte River Swamp Park

Families can experience the swamp like never before with an action-packed, high flying adventure. The park features a two and a half hour zipline tour, seven course adventure park, 50-foot Pelican Dive jump and more. Park owners did not want to sacrifice the beautiful, natural surroundings for adventure, but rather enhance guest experience by seamlessly weaving the two together. The park is uniquely designed around the landscape and rangers educate guests about the ecological benefits of the natural habitat. With an outdoor adventure perfectly suited for ages four and beyond, there is something for every member of the family.

Shallotte River Swamp Park

Last Turtle Talks of the Year

In North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, summer is sea turtle season. For centuries our beaches have been home to loggerhead sea turtles, and every summer local sea turtle protection organizations offer free weekly family-friendly seminars to share important information about loggerhead sea turtle conservation efforts. These “Turtle Talks” are held late spring through summer, with the last of the popular events scheduled just before and over Labor Day weekend. Be sure to check the calendar of events and see if your family can make one of these fun and educational seminars.

Ingram Planetarium

Looking to expand your family’s horizons this Labor Day holiday? Venture to Sunset Beach to explore the Ingram Planetarium. The state-of-the-art planetarium features an 85-seat SciDome Sky Theater with high definition digital projection and surround-sound system. Families can catch thrilling and educational programs about space exploration and astronomy before wondering through the many interactive exhibits.

Planetarium

Waterfront Dining

The vibrant communities of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands are home to countless culinary hot spots serving up the tastiest coastal creations. Whether families are craving seafood, home-style dishes or international cuisine, there is a dining experience for everyone. Some of the best parts of a beach vacation are the views, and the Brunswick Islands boast beautiful waterfront dining spots with a family friendly atmosphere. There are many great options that offer incredible views, fresh seafood and a friendly atmosphere.

Ice Cream Shops

Everyone loves a sweet treat, and lucky for families the Brunswick Islands have numerous local ice cream shops that serve up smiles every day. Each island and town has several spectacular ice cream choices as unique and individual as the islands that house them. Say cheers to the season with the signature treat of summer.

 For even more family-friendly Labor Day travel ideas, be sure to visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

Enjoy Dinner with a View with Waterfront Dining in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Few scenes seem more signature of a beach vacation than a restaurant patio overlooking waves lapping the beach or the tranquil waters of the Intracoastal Waterway; and in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, fresh seafood with fantastic waterfront views is in no short supply. Each of our islands and towns are bursting with flavor and brimming with beautiful coastal views. The area boasts waterfront dining set along the Atlantic Ocean, the Cape Fear River, the Intracoastal Waterway and more, making for memorable meals for any getaway to the Brunswick Islands. With so many unique places to see and sample, discovering where to dine next will be an exciting culinary adventure. Top off your foodie bucket list with a visit to “The Seafood Capital of the World” in Calabash, and you’re in for a treat! Take your pick of the below waterfront dining options in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.

Calabash seafoodThe Calabash seafood phenomenon began in the town of the same name, now home to several restaurants along the Calabash River. The folks at Waterfront Seafood Shack own their fishing and shrimp boats, and the fresh catches go straight to the seafood shack, ready to be prepared and eaten all in the same day. Visitors to this dining locale find themselves in the vacation mood with tiki-style décor and outdoor picnic tables for a true coastal dining experience by the water. Diners looking for scenic river views and an authentic Calabash seafood dining experience will find the perfect setting at Captain John’s Seafood HouseCaptain Nance’s Seafood, or Dockside Seafood House Restaurant. Visitors can also check out Calabash’s newest waterfront dining option, The Oyster Rock. Diners to The Oyster Rock can enjoy fresh seafood and scrumptious raw bar items with a scenic backdrop of the Calabash River.

Moving up the coast, Twin Lakes by the Sea in Sunset Beach boasts panoramic views of the Intracoastal Waterway. Take in the beautiful sunsets while you dine on fried, sautéed, grilled, broiled or blackened seafood. Chef Clayton Williams creates Calabash-style seafood with southern flare for guests to enjoy by the Intracoastal Waterway.

waterfront diningOn nearby Ocean Isle Beach, The Isles Restaurant & Tiki Bar sits along the ocean, serving fresh seafood in a family-friendly atmosphere. Enjoy a summer evening at The Isles’ oceanfront tiki bar. Over on the Intracoastal Waterway, Sharky’s Restaurant is Ocean Isle’s oldest restaurant and features 200 feet of boat docking for easy water access. The menu includes a variety of seafood, along with unique twists on other casual dining favorites. Next door on the Waterway, the Ocean Isle Fish Company Restaurant features a tiki bar on its upper deck where diners can enjoy expansive views (including boats bringing fresh seafood right to the dock) while feasting on coastal favorites. On the other side of the causeway, Jinks Creek Waterfront Grille overlooks the water with spectacular sunset views each evening. Menu items highlight fresh, local seafood, and guests can also get on island time at the restaurant’s raw oyster and tiki bars. On the mainland, The View at Brick Landing Plantation offers Intracoastal Waterway views from multiple patios and the spacious dining room. The restaurant’s seasonal menu is full of fresh seafood options and traditional dishes.

Toward the mainland, The Grillin’ Crab sits along the river on Shallotte’s Main Street. The restaurant’s covered waterfront deck is positioned perfectly for sunset views over the Shallotte River. Featuring Southern Coastal Fare, the menu showcases fresh seafood, along with prime cut steaks, as well as casual lunchtime options. On the Intracoastal Waterway and Shallotte River, the Inlet View Bar & Grill has been family owned and operated for nearly 40 years. Diners can savor fresh seafood with the shrimp on the menu coming straight from the family’s boat.

waterfront dining

Several restaurants sit along the Intracoastal Waterway in Holden Beach. Dock House Seafood and More offers an eclectic menu with unique items including a seafood pot pie and a mac-n-cheeseburger with an elevated view of the Waterway, including outdoor seating. Famous for their incredible shrimp burgers, Provision Company is a laid-back, open-air dining destination providing views of the boats passing along the Waterway.  Betty’s Waterfront Restaurant specializes in seafood including combo platters and items from the steamer. It’s menu favorites includes a Low Country Boil Pasta and shrimp & grits.

Back on the ocean, Island Way in Oak Island is a fine dining establishment with 18 large windows for guests to enjoy the coastal views. Perfecting steaks and seafood, the restaurant is ideal for celebrating a special occasion. On the other side of the island, the Fish House Restaurant offers fresh seafood and Intracoastal Waterway views. Just over the bridge to the mainland, The Dead End Saloon Fish Factory Grille is located at the South Harbour Marina on the Intracoastal Waterway. Bring the whole family to enjoy the dog-friendly patio, and the restaurant’s “fun” (rather than “fine”) dining and casual atmosphere. Also on the Marina, Joseph’s Italian Bistro serves award-winning cuisine with fantastic views of the Waterway. Try the fresh seafood options with the restaurant’s authentic Italian flavors.

waterfront dining

Head over to Southport for views of the Cape Fear River and Intracoastal Waterway as they meet the Atlantic Ocean. The Historic Yacht Basin is a picturesque waterside area with a host of eateries featuring scenic water views, many accessible by both land and water. The well-known Fishy Fishy Café has true vacation vibes with colorful décor, fun cocktails and delicious seafood small plates and entrees. Be sure to catch a sunset from the outdoor deck! The menu at Yacht Basin Eatery includes homemade comfort food and North Carolina beers, all to be savored overlooking the stunning waterfront views. Next door, The Provision Company of Southport is a no-frills seafood shack offering quality seafood with unobstructed water views. Sit on the covered patio for a delicious meal, and feel the waterside breeze.The Frying Pan offers yet another option for admiring a breathtaking waterfront view with a spectacular meal, including variations of classic seafood dishes with southern twists. Oliver’s on the Cape Fear, originally a ships chandler dating back to the 1700s, is now a fine dining restaurant with large windows facing the water, ideal for watching boats make their way up or down the river from the Atlantic. Sip on a seasonal cocktail at the restaurant’s outdoor patio just steps from the water.

Half the fun of vacation is discovering new dining spots to taste culinary creations and local flavors of the area.

To explore more dining options in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit http://www.ncbrunswick.com/fun_and_adventure/dining.

Get Active During Your Beach Getaway To North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

kayaking in Brunswick Islands

Get Active Along the Coast at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands

Who says beach getaways are just for lounging? Sun, sand and scenic ocean views are undoubtedly a well-deserved treat, but those looking for a little adventure on their next vacation will find it in no short supply at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. While the Brunswick Islands offer 45 miles of scenic, sandy beaches just beckoning for you to plant a plush towel or beach chair, there are plenty of exciting ways to get up and get active on your next vacation.

Decompress and Destress

Treat yourself by treating your body with a beachside yoga session. Feel the tension and stress from home slowly slip away with every move and stretch. Many visitors come to the Brunswick Islands looking for some quality relaxation, and there are few activities better suited to test your fitness in a tranquil setting than a yoga session along one of our pristine beaches. Area instructors offer classes all summer long to ease your stress and keep you toned. Be sure to see if any classes are scheduled for when you are in town!

SUP NC's Brunswick Islands

Check Out What’s SUP

Check out “what’s SUP” during your stay in North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. The smooth waters of the Intracoastal Waterway, creeks and island canals are perfect for stand-up paddle boarding (SUP). Stop by one of the many local outfitters to rent a board and take to the peaceful waters for a breathtaking and active aquatic adventure. Visitors can even take their beachside yoga experience up a notch with a SUP yoga class. Carolina School of Surf offers SUP yoga classes for all skill levels from beginner to seasoned SUP pros.

Tour by Water

There are countless ways to get out and explore the beautiful North Carolina scenery and vibrant communities of the Brunswick Islands. Active beachgoers can take to the water to tour their coastal home away from home. With miles of salt mash creek and rivers as well as the Intercoastal Waterway, there are plenty of picturesque paths to explore. Individual kayak rentals and guided tours are available to give visitors the equipment and expertise they need to enjoy a fun-filled day on the water. From nature watching to exploring and sunsets to stargazing, guided tours are available to help visitors capture the best of the Brunswick Islands.

Old Baldy and Oak Island Lighthouse

Take a Climb  

For many, lighthouses evoke images of serene and magical coastal settings. While maritime magic and serenity perfectly describe the Brunswick Island lighthouses, journeys to the top are not as whimsical. To reach the top of Old Baldy, North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse located on Bald Head Island, visitors must climb 108 steps but at the top one is rewarded with stunning views of the Cape Fear River and Atlantic Ocean. Across the way on Caswell Beach is the 153-foot Oak Island Lighthouse, the last lighthouse built in the state. The top of the 15-story lighthouse can only be reached through a series of ship’s ladders. While many find the climb a challenge, visitors agree that the spectacular views are worth every step.

For more information on attractions, activities and ways to stay active at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

Summer is Sea Turtle Time in the Brunswick Islands

sea turtle Brunswick Islands

For many people the word “summer” evokes mental images of sandy beaches, gentle waves, glowing sunshine, pearly white sea shells and freshly caught seafood. While these classic coastal elements are key parts of a summer escape to North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, locals and visitors alike know that the 45 miles of picturesque, uncrowded beaches bring in more than happy beachgoers each summer. For centuries, the beaches of North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands have been home to loggerhead sea turtles. These spectacular creatures travel great distances to lay their eggs along the shore from May to August, with hatchings happening July through October. Many visitors book their stays to have front row seats to this bit of maritime magic, making summertime sea turtle time in the Brunswick Islands. With so many ways to take part in the action, it is easy to see why!

Museum of Coastal Carolina

Turtle loving travelers can venture to Ocean Isle Beach for the Barrier Island Gallery at the Museum of Coastal Carolina. The museum shares The Legend of the Loggerhead with an exhibit featuring a sand dune model complete with mother loggerhead turtle laying a nest and hatchlings emerging from the nest. Visitors can walk through the dune to check out interior views of the nest and watch a video about the lifecycle of Ocean Isle Beach’s loggerhead turtles. With one of the largest dry aquariums on the East Coast, the Museum of Coastal Carolina also gives guests an opportunity to see life-size loggerhead turtles and other native wildlife displayed.

sea turtle exhibit

Turtle Talks

The Brunswick Islands has sea turtle protection organizations in Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Caswell Beach and Bald Head Island. Many of the local sea turtle protection organizations offer free weekly family-friendly seminars, designed to share important information about loggerhead sea turtle protection efforts. These “Turtle Talks” are held in Holden Beach, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Oak Island late spring through summer. With different locations and times throughout the summer season, there are plenty of opportunities to entertain and educate your family about these magnificent creatures during your stay in the Brunswick Islands.  Visit our calendar of events for details.

Turtle Talks – Holden Beach

Every Wednesday, June-August, 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Talks – Sunset Beach

Every Sunday, June 10-August 26, 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Talks – Ocean Isle Beach

Every Monday, May 28-September 3, 3:30 p.m.

Every Tuesday, May 29-August 28, 7:00 p.m.

Turtle Talks – Oak Island

Every Tuesday, June-August, 6:00 p.m.

baby sea turtles

Summer Internships

The Ocean Isle Beach Sea Turtle Protection Organization offers several week-long summer internships for middle and high school travelers ages 13-18. During this interactive experience, interns and their parents assist in monitoring sea turtle nests, collecting and logging sea turtle activity and by supporting visitor and resident awareness initiatives. Interested families can apply online. Insider tip: be aware of application deadlines to secure your spot on the sea turtle conservation team.

sea turtle nest

Visitor Tips for Sea Turtle Conservation

Sea turtles are a special part of the summer experience at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. While sea turtle sightings are exciting, we all must do our part to support the loggerhead turtles’ journey and keep them returning to our beaches for the next 100 years. Check out our tips to creating a better beach environment for the sea turtles:

  1. Do not disturb a sea turtle as it makes its way to or from the ocean.
  2. Know how to spot a sea turtle nest and do not disturb. Nests will typically be numbered and marked by surrounding fencing.
  3. Lights may confuse the sea turtles, so avoid shining lights at the turtles and turn off all lights near the beach, including outdoor lighting.
  4. Be a responsible beachgoer and pick up all litter, fill in beach holes and remove your beach equipment.
  5. Avoid the use of flash photography in capturing a sea turtle sighting.
  6. Do not ever pick up a sea turtle.

For more information on ways to stay and how to plan a terrific turtle experience at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.

Eight Ways to Enjoy Shrimp in the Brunswick Islands

Shrimp Brunswick Islands

Sun, sand and seafood simply go hand in hand, and there is no better place to snag a signature shrimp dish than North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. No trip to the Brunswick Islands is complete without some coastal cuisine, and our charming beach towns are brimming with tasty dining spots serving up innovative and scrumptious shrimp creations. Foodies looking to come out of their shell to savor a delicious dining experience can check out the below shrimp seeking guide to the Brunswick Islands.

1. North Shore Shrimp Taco (Oak Island)

The dining scene at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands is as vibrant as the collection of coastal communities themselves. Here not only will you find classic seafood dishes, but also flavors from around the globe. Kai-Joes on Oak Island is serving up North Shore Shrimp Tacos. This international fusion dish features grilled shrimp, Asian slaw and a special Thai chili sauce.

Shrimp Burger Holden Beach Provisions2. Grilled Shrimp Burger (Holden Beach)

For a fresh spin on an American classic, check out the Grilled Shrimp Burger at Provision Company on Holden Beach. This waterfront dining spot can be reached by land or boat and is a popular spot for families looking to enjoy fresh seafood and scenic views.

3. Shrimp Flatbread (Southport)

Stop by Fishy Fishy Café in Southport for a fun waterfront dining experience overlooking both the yacht basin and beautiful coastal marsh. Fishy Fish Café offers a variety of local seafood dishes including a Shrimp Flatbread appetizer. The baked flatbread features basil pesto, sun dried tomatoes, balsamic reduction, caramelized onions, parmesan and goat cheese to perfectly combine signature shrimp flavors and a taste of Italy.

4. Grilled Shrimp (Ocean Isle Beach)

While grilling is a popular preparation for shrimp, Jinks Creek in Ocean Isle Beach is adding their own flavorful flare to this method. Be sure to try their take on Grilled Shrimp featuring wild caught North Carolina shrimp that are garlic and herb marinated and served with charred pineapple and tomato salsa.

5. Cape Fear Shrimp & Grits (Leland)

Few things are more Southern than shrimp and grits, and few places do them as well as the Cape Fear Seafood Company. Swing by and be sure to order their take on this Southern staple complete with shrimp, applewood bacon, tomatoes, scallions and mushrooms in a low country cream sauce and served over cheese grits.

Shrimp Po Boy6. New Orleans Style Shrimp Po Boys (Shallotte)

For a taste of jazzy Bourbon Street in the Low Country, stop by Inlet View Bar & Grill in Shallotte. This family-owned spot serves up freshly caught shrimp, straight from the family-owned boats. One of the many tasty treats on the menu is the New Orleans Style Shrimp Po Boy served with lettuce, tomato and creole remoulade on a Leidenheimer New Orleans-style bread.

7. Shrimp Bucket (Sunset Beach)

A food tour of the Brunswick Islands would not be complete with a low country classic found at Crabby Oddwaters in Sunset Beach. Crabby Oddwaters offers guests the option of a Shrimp Bucket which includes one full pound of locally caught shrimp, corn, new potatoes, sausage and drawn butter. This dish is definitely one for sharing with the whole family!

Calabash seafood8. Calabash-Style Fried Shrimp (Calabash)

There can be no list of must try shrimp dishes that doesn’t include Calabash-style fried shrimp. There is a reason the name of this picturesque fishing community may already evoke mental images of seafood dishes lightly breaded and fried to perfection. Visitors to the area are often surprised to learn that this popular and distinctive style of seafood is actually named after Calabash, NC.  To find dishes featuring infamous Calabash-style fried shrimp head to any of the delicious seafood restaurants in the town for an authentic Calabash dining experience.  As an added bonus, several of the town’s seafood restaurants feature outdoor waterfront dining.

No matter what you are craving, there is a culinary experience for you at North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands. For more information on dining in the Brunswick Islands, please visit www.NCBrunswick.com.